Which lines have you been waiting in?

It has been quite some time since my last entry. Blame it on life…actually lets just call it priorities. I’m not doing much modeling at the moment and have started to teach english privately while studying Chinese. It’s fair to say that the business is going MUCH better than the Chinese. My next post will update everyone on life, but this post is about that most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, I’m talking about Black Friday…what, you thought I was referring to the Christmas? Thanksgiving? Or maybe Remembrance Day? Actually, now that I think about it, I guess I am referring to those three days which when combined make up what should be the most reflective time of the year for the average person.

Once a month in October, November, and December, we are given a day or two off of work  so that we may celebrate, give thanks or pay tribute to others. It’s against this back-drop that “Black Friday” stands out like a business suit in a soup kitchen line. To be specific, it’s the fights, lines and obsession with getting a “steal” that I’m talking about, not the shopping itself.

In the following clip listen to how excited people are, and look at how many of them there are?! I mean you would think that they were about to meet Jay-Z and Beyonce or something…but no…they are buying underwear…that they can’t even afford.

So what’s the point of this post? Well, personally I find it hard to watch footage like this, because I just don’t get it. But, my point isn’t to judge. It’s certainly not to say that this is something endemic of a particular nation because as soon as something is “on sale”, “marked down” or “free”, it seems to bring out the worst in people regardless of where they’re from. For an example of this right here in China read this. All I’m hoping is that all my readers reflect a little on their own actions and choices a little.

Here’s the twist though, if you were the woman screaming for joy over the $30 thong you bought for $5, or if you were the guy who drove all the way from Vancouver to Seattle in order to buy an Armani suit that was discounted 50%, that’s fine. Savings matter, especially in today’s economy, and quite simply, who doesn’t appreciate big sales?!

What I’m asking is whether you’ve spent some time in a different line recently. Maybe the one full of people waiting to shake a Veteran’s hand in the pouring rain. If not, why not? Were you one of those people who, when asked, told their buddy they couldn’t afford to contribute $20 to a”Movember” campaign, or couldn’t spare a minute to even talk to the Habitat for Humanity canvasser on the street corner. Were you able to  commit to making a monthly contribution of even $5 a month towards any cause that was near and dear to your heart this past year?

So you see, this post really isn’t about the evils of shopping, and neither is this time of year. It’s a special time of year, a time when we are reminded to give thanks and are given ample opportunity to give back because its safe to say that most of us have more to be thankful for than we realize.

So next year when “Black Friday” rolls around, and you find yourself standing in an epic line, or watching  all the videos, and news stories about the general mayhem, remember to ask yourself which lines you’ve been waiting in all year.

As a footnote I read about “Giving Tuesday” after the fact and I hope it gains a little traction next year. Just one more opportunity to GIVE!

Club 21

Aside

An Idea taken from the author of The Happiness Equation, John Hallward:

“Club 21” was started by his grandparents. When each grandchild turned 21 they received a letter from their grandparents with a check for $500. The letter said happy birthday – here is $500 but it is not for you! The letter went on to explain that the money had to go to 5 separate charities. They had to choose two charities in the province that they lived, two in the province of Quebec where they grew up and one anywhere else. The grandchild then had to write a letter to the grandparents explaining which charity they gave to and why. Once the task was finished they were welcomed to “Club 21”, and received another $500 check to spend on themselves.

Whether you’re giving $50, $500, or $5000 as a birthday present or for Christmas ,it doesn’t matter. What matters is the lesson you are teaching. Compassion, thoughtfulness and kindness are all values that we can’t start teaching soon enough!

Letter to the Editor

Great news, the Globe and Mail now features a section dedicated entirely to “Giving”! The section is a weekly feature dedicated to  giving back and socially conscious living…again…high time.

After scanning the articles this morning, one feature titled Make small Changes that do a world of good caught my attention:

My issue is the limitations that continue to be placed on Charities by society. Why wouldn’t you support a charity that spends money on ad space or t.v. commercials? Is there a correlation between spending on advertising, telemarketing, or canvassing, and failure to deliver Mission? No, this notion is imposed upon charities unfairly by us.

Doesn’t it make more sense to evaluate a charity based on accomplishments and achievements rather than judge it on the business practices it employs? Practices which may even generate  more good than had they not been implemented.

By all means hold a charity to account and evaluate the means which it uses to achieve its ends, but don’t as the Editor in the article suggests, look for charities that avoid spending in certain areas. Did the ad campaign work? Charities need to be held to account for the decisions that they make as any organization would be, but a charity shouldn’t be punished (which you are doing by withholding your donation) simply for making a decision that it feels is in the best interest of the organization.

Its time to change rules of the game.

Dear Editor,

First off I would like to thank you for creating the new sections “Live Better” and “Giving”. I am not sure how long these will be featured in your newspaper, but I think it’s high time that the issues relating to the non-profit and social sectors were covered in greater detail, beyond the typical semi-annual feature.

I would like to voice my concern relating to one of the “tips” you have gave in the section “Make small changes that do a world of good”. In tip number three you recommend:

“Look for charities that avoid spending your donations on ad space, TV commercials, street canvassers or telemarketers.”

In my opinion this “tip” is limiting and rather short-sighted. For some reason, charities are forced to play by a different set of spending rules when compared to organizations in the for-profit sector. My question to you is why?

Charitable organizations tackle all of the greatest challenges facing our world, and depend on charity to allow them to do so. My point is this; before you decide to give of your own time, talent or treasure, evaluate a charity based on its results, impact and achievements, rather than scanning an operating budget looking for stats and figures on advertising spending. By no means am I suggesting that we shouldn’t hold our charities to account, I am simply questioning the standards by which we have traditionally done so, and suggesting that we reevaluate the process.

Best Regards,
Alexander von Kaldenberg

http://about.me/alexandervk